Three years ago Josh Ashby made a decision to ask for help so he could change his life, be a better father and stay out of prison. Josh walked into Te Whānau O Waipareira where he met that change, and she was called Vivian Cope.
“The day I walked into Waipareira I had no expectations ‘cos I was used to being let down. Used to being told that I was never going to amount to anything. But when I met Viv I could tell straight away she genuinely wanted to help me. I call her my Aunty because it’s nice not to be judged. I can’t describe how nice it is to have Viv in my corner”.
Since they met Viv has introduced Josh to another kaimahi, Helene Greening, and between them they have been instrumental in his journey of growth, enrolling him in courses, supporting and encouraging him through korero and even accompanying him to court. Sometimes they will call or message just to see how he is. The first time Josh tried to complete a Waipareira parenting course he found himself back in prison not once, but twice and then reality hit. Josh had had enough of that life so he reached out again, calling Viv from prison to let her know he would be back to complete her programme.
“When people are nice to you, when they are kind and they help you, you never want to let them down”.
Josh is the product of a tough upbringing and has had to fend for himself since the age of nine.
“I’ve been in a home, I had no family, it’s fend for yourself as there’s no love in these homes. It’s disgusting and I’ve learnt from it. There’s two ways to go, you either go crazy or you get tough. There’s no in-between, you have to look after yourself”.
Josh is realistic about who he is and how hard it is going to be to make the necessary changes towards a positive, inspiring future for himself and his sons.
“I’m a real bad boy. I don’t want to sound rude or disrespectful, but I’m not a part-timer. I can’t shake this easily. I’ve been living this lifestyle for a long time and when you get out of prison there’s nothing there for you. Nothing! So you get out and you fall back into the same pattern. I don’t want to do that anymore”.
Josh knows his heavily tattooed, stocky build creates a negative impression for some people, however these days it’s more about being aware of his own behaviour; being aware of his own reactions.
“I have to keep myself in check. Even driving there are guys with road rage looking at me and wanting to have a go. I sit there, eyes forward, refusing to engage. I’m not being a dick but I’ve done those guys a favour by not getting out of the car. I would rather drive away and have him yell at me for being a pussy than try and involve myself with a guy just having a bad day”.
Josh knows that actively working on himself is starting have beneficial, long term effects on how he conducts himself as well as revealing just what he is capable of. One of the programmes Josh completed is Nga Tau Miharo, a Parenting Program. The certificate he received upon completing the course holds a lot of mana for him as Josh is unfamiliar with the feeling of not only seeing something through, but also being acknowledged for it.
“I just turned my life around. I have been in and out of prison for the last six years and I take full responsibility, it was all my own fault. I am strong-minded, but I didn’t have any support – and now I do”.
An important date is coming, Thursday, April the 15th, 2021 marks one year since Josh was released from prison, a milestone that will be celebrated with his sons over burgers
“I’ve come a long way. This is the longest I have been out of prison. Normally I’m back within a few weeks. One of my bros was telling me the other day that whatever I was doing, to keep doing it as he can see the change in me. He told me he is proud of me”.
Te Whānau O Waipareira is full of kaimahi at the frontline who are making a real difference in the lives of whānau – something they never take for granted or think twice about. One of those kaimahi is “Aunty Viv” who doesn’t consider it work.
“Josh is my success story. When he first walked in here, his head was down with a sense of shame and hopelessness. But he has come a long way and he no longer plays the blame game. The difference in him is massive. His head is held high, he takes ownership and he is passionate about being there for his sons”.
Josh is about to embark on another Waipareira course for tane, run by tane and he is looking forward to it. The Tane Nui A Rangi Papa Programme helps men learn about themselves individually and as a group. This eight week course covers communication, relationships, respect and empathy plus the men learn how to use these tools for improved parenting methods. It is a course that understands one size does not fit all and provides a little self reflection.
“I’m excited to learn more. It is amazing how good this place has been to me – I feel like a member of the whānau here and I like it. I never expected anything from anyone, I was hoping to get some help here. This place has helped me so much – Viv and Helene – I can’t say enough about what they have done for me”.